This center is one of two high-profile Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction programs (MBSR) programs in Philadelphia. They hold MBSR classes for patients and health care professionals, and also conduct research on the effects of MBSR practice on physical and psychological well-being.
Located in Jefferson Hospital complex. Most of the practitioners attending the MBSR program are patients that are encouraged by their therapist or physician to take up the practice. Largely reflecting the demographics of middle to higher income Philadelphians, they skew predominantly Caucasian.
Patients take the MBSR classes to alleviate physical or mental ailments such as depression, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, and chronic pain, and to develop wisdom and self-compassion. Many are cancer patients.
Patients and students attending the MBSR program at the Mindfulness Institute also are taught to practice gentle mindful yoga and qigong as part of the protocol. According to our interviewees (a panel of MBSR teachers and researchers), these practices also help reduce stress, chronic pain, and high blood pressure.
Interviewees report that the MBSR program has helped participants to reduce stress, reduce pain, prevent illness, enhance the immune system, and treat insomnia. Interviewees also mentioned clinical research showing that MBSR induces deep relaxation, improves the immune system, lowers blood pressure, helps with chronic pain and stress management, and gives benefits at a cellular level (e.g., slowing aging process).
Interviewees acknowledge that MBSR originates in Eastern traditions, but they present MBSR as something secular and “universal.” They state that they avoid associating MBSR explicitly with Buddhism when speaking with patients and other healthcare professionals, although many facilitators themselves are interested in more traditional forms of Buddhist practice. Anecdotally, we have heard that several MBSR facilitators are also connected with the Shambhala Meditation Center.
Public events and registration for mindfulness programs are available on the website.